Saturday, September 03, 2011

Uh-Oh! They're Back!

VIEW FROM AFAR
I write to you from a distant venue, barely dealing with issues using dial-up internet
service, but still eager to help you stay abreast of important issues in Costa Mesa and environs.

CATCHING YOU OFF-GUARD
As you try to get yourselves sorted out from a summer that included a month of the Orange County
Fair - where record crowds took some of the edge off the rancorous rhetoric about who should own that property and how it should be configured - and another month where the Costa Mesa City Council acted like it was running a business in France and basically took the entire month of August off, the council is hoping to catch you in a post-holiday malaise and slip some important stuff past you Tuesday evening.

CONSENT CALENDAR SPENDING

In the Consent Calendar, which is normally voted on as one vote without discussion unless someone decides more discussion is needed on a specific item, there are things of note to consider. First, there are five (5) Warrant resolutions - those items that authorize and recognize the payment of valid expenses. These total almost $4.5 million this time around! And, while the "process" continues to make it difficult to read these things online - you have to cock your head 90 degrees or turn you computer on it's side - the little crick in your neck is worth is. As you scan the entries you'll find one, for example, for Talon Executive Services for almost $14,000 for "legal" services. We think that's the charge for re-investigating the Huy Pham death which resulted in nothing new - he leaped to his death last St. Patrick's Day.

JONES & MAYER
You'll also find that we have
paid Jones & Mayer, our outsourced legal group, $115,901.11 for services rendered. We continue to throw money at them at a rate well above the budgeted amount. But wait, the story gets even better.

WE NEEDED "LITIGATORS"

You may recall that one of the reasons we decided to contract with an outside firm in the f
irst place was because, at that time, it was felt that our in-house legal team lacked the litigation experience necessary. So, we hooked up with Jones & Mayer to provide a full-service, one-stop-shop for our legal needs.

JONES DAY
However, way d
own at the end of the Consent Calendar - items 12 and 13 - we find requests for the council to approve retaining TWO additional law firms to help with our growing legal entanglements. The first, #12, is with the firm of Jones Day to provide legal services in the lawsuit between the city and the "Costa Mesa Employees Association". That's how it is phrased in the item, but I suspect it's supposed to be "Costa Mesa City Employees Association". Ah, those darn details... Anyhow, Jones Day happily proposes a one-time arrangement in which they will be providing services at a rate of $495.00 per hour for any time taken by ANY lawyer (including first year associates) in the firm on our case - plus expenses! And, of course, there is no estimate about the duration or cost of this engagement. Holy cow!

HANSONBRIDGETT "A DEAL"

Item #13, is an arrangement with the San Francisco law firm of HansonBridgett for "legal services in connection with the outso
urcing of certain municipal services". This is apparently codifying an already existing relationship, so I find myself wondering if this outfit was one of those who managed to overlook City Council Policy 100-6 for more than 4 months. This firm apparently is a real bargain because they are going to bill us only $325.00 per hour for the primary lawyer and $295.00 for another fellow. And, of course, they're going to bill us for "expenses", too. No photocopy, no phone call, no deep breath drawn on our behalf will go unbilled, as was the case with Jones Day, too.

THE METER KEEPS ON SPINNING
And just what, pray tell, is Jones & Mayer doing in all this? Well, contract City Attorney, Tom Duarte, is "overseeing" all this action and deciding how the city's money will be spent. So, o
ur contract attorney is managing our sub-contract attorney - actually, two of them - and we're still paying them $175.00 per hour for that service. In the meantime, that old meter just keeps spinning.

Further on down in the agenda, under New Business, you'll find some nuggets. Some make sense, others seem just a little strange.


PERS UPDATE

Under #3, the council will receive an update on the PERS retirement system. This should be very
interesting. Consultant John Bartels has presented them with an excellent staff report.

OPEN GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL
Next comes Wendy Leece's request to modify the municipal code requiring reporting ALL ex parte communications by council members. While this seems like a good idea - a logical one - I want to hear any arguments against it.


HOMELESS TASK FORCE

Item #5 is an up
date on the activities of the Homeless Task Force. I'm looking forward to hearing this information, too. They've been working hard and have an aggressive agenda for the remainder of the year.

REALLY?

The next item is a weird one - a resolution to have the CEO place signs on city -owned prope
rties warning about the environmental dangers of amalgam dental fillings... Really?

KOCI NEEDS MONEY
Then radio station KOCI is asking for a grant of $5,655 to purchase and install an Emergency Alert System. They are apparently willing to trade the city more than $6,000 of advertising/programming for this grant. Might be a good deal. I know there has been conversation about some regular interview programming recently.

RFP EVALUATION PROCESS - FINALLY!
Then, under #8, the cou
ncil will finally consider a process for the evaluation of the Requests for Proposal (RFP) that have been, and are being, issued for the outsourcing scheme. Some will say, "It's about time!" They've been at this for months and now finally will consider a process?!

CONTRACTING COMMITTEE STATUS UPDATE

Item #9 is related to 8 - a Status update on Contracting Committees. This should be very interesting because of the difficulty the city and the bargaining unit had putting these together once Council Policy 100-6 was finally unearthed.

DEPARTMENTAL REORGANIZ
ATION
Then, finally, the Big Elephant on the agenda - the major reorganization of several city departments. This is a whopper! And, based on the earlier agenda, it's very likely that this will be discussed very, very late in the evening. And, as I've stated many times in the past, councils typically don't make good decisions when the clock passes midnight.


TAKE A LOOK AT THESE CHANGES!
1.Information Tech
nology Division becomes a division within the Finance Department;

2.Recreation Division becomes a division within the Public Services Department;

3.Human Resources/Risk Management Division becomes of a division within the CEO Department;

4.A new Communications and Marketing Division to be created within the CEO Department;

5.The Central Services Section becomes a section within the Communications, Marketing and Community Affairs Division of the CEO Department;

6.The Housing a
nd Community Development Division become a Division of the Development Services Department;

7.Eliminate the current vacant positions of Administrative Services Director, Human Resources Administrator - Risk Management, and Budget and Research Officer;

8.Reclassify the following existing positions:
a.Finance Director to Finance and Information Technology Director

b.Human Resources Administrator in Human Resources to Human Resources Manager

c.Human Resources Analyst in Risk Management to Principal Human Resources Analyst in Risk Management; and

9.Create and fund the following new positions:
a.Public Affairs
Manager - Communications and Marketing in the CEO Department

b.Public Affairs Manager – Community Affairs and Special Events in the CEO Department

c.Budget Analyst in the Finance Department

d.Executive Secretary (Confidential) - City Council Office to support workload and communications of five City Council members

e.Executive Se
cretary (Confidential) - the CEO Department to support the workload of the Assistant CEO, Communication & Marketing staff, Community Affairs and Special Events staff, Management Analyst and support for City Attorney’s Office

WOW!
Certainly, we don't disagree with re-organizing to make operations more efficient and productive. However, it looks to me like there are going to be some permanent positions created for consultants - the two Public Affairs Managers slots, for example, for Bill Lobdell and Dan Joyce. Lobdell tells me that these positions will be actively recruited... OK, if you say so, Bill.

LATE NIGHT S
NEAK ATTACKS
All that happens before council member comments - a time at the end when surprises are sprung on an unsuspecting public. You will recall Eric Bever's question for the staff at the last meeting, when he requested them to investigate how a single council member could be prohibited from placing an item on the agenda - a clear attempt to further marginalize Wendy Leece's presence. You may recall that he might have spilled the beans about possible Brown Act violations when he brought the issue up, indicating that he tried to confirm an interest with "at least one other" council member before placing an item on the agenda.

THIS WEEK'S UP TO YOU

You all are on your own at this council meeting. A little surgical procedure will keep m
e from attending and, in fact, might prohibit me from even observing on television. So, pay attention... it's your city they are trying to destroy.


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29 Comments:

Blogger feral390 said...

Corruption defined
a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle
b : decay, decomposition
c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery)
d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct
I'd say that pretty much sums up our unethical,unskilled, and incompetent council.

9/03/2011 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Resident said...

Legal fees are up because of OCEA's lawsuit. The residents know that. The unions are bleeding the residents and taxpayers and we aren't going to forget it come election time!

9/03/2011 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous selfproclaimedexpert said...

conferring with at least one member on subjects NOT yet on the council agenda is NOT a Brown Act violation. It is not even City business at that point.

9/03/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

The operative phrase was "at least" - if Bever spoke with two council members on an issue it IS a Brown Act violation. And, if an issue may become a council subject and three discuss it that's a violation. Read it - there's a link on my home page.

9/03/2011 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous I HAVE QUESTIONS said...

First of all, I can't begin to tell you how sick I am of hearing about the Brown Act. Nothing would please me more than dumping that piece of wasted legislation and letting the city council do what needs to be done, regardless of who the city council members are, now, or in the future.

Secondly, believe it or not, the thing I dislike the most on Tuesday's agenda is that $14,000 bill from Talon. They did nothing more than parrot the unproven cause of death given by the coroner. The coroner's analysis didn't even begin to qualify as junk science, let alone a reason to suspect suicide. His lame reasoning tells me he's a sorry excuse for a coroner. It has become the "go to" cause of uncertain deaths anymore.

And, ............ where is the transparency with regard to Talon's investigation Mr. Lobdell? Was there a suicide note? Who was interviewed? Who witnessed the jump, who witnessed the death, and who was the first person to make contact with the decedent? Were union members involved in any way? Who sold Huy the cocaine, and who was with him when he used it? Was there any camera footage of people entering the roof top, partying on the roof top, leaving the roof top, or jumping from the roof top? If so, what was visible? If not, did anyone even ask about camera footage? Guess not.

In other words, just exactly what did Talon do for the $14,000, and what makes them experts on the subject matter at hand? Sounds to me like taxpayers got the shaft on that bill. If we have to pay that charge, we have a right to know what Talon did, or didn't do!

9/03/2011 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Taxpayer said...

Legal fees are up because of City Council arrogance and stupidity. Residents know that! Had the council analyzed first, like sensible Republicans, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Had they listened to the City Attorney's advice, there would be no lawsuit. (Kim Barlow resigned soon after her advice was ignored.) If they had an attitude of "working with" rather that "pitting against" Costa Mesa wouldn't be a national joke, senior managers and department heads wouldn't have bolted, there wouldn't be a polarized, rancorous atmosphere in the City, and we'd be saving hundreds of thousands –possibly millions- of dollars. We sure will remember that when we vote!

9/03/2011 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous your imaginary friend said...

I Have Questions, I have one for you... If you come down to Council Tuesday night, would you please bring one of your tinfoil hats for our Mayor?

9/03/2011 10:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Just leave already Righeimer & Mensinger! said...

@"CM Resident"

Oh please, just how stupid do you think us REAL residents are? We all know that Jim Righeimer & Steve Mensinger are detroying our city along with the other councilmen. The city is in needless litigation and wasting money on all of their lawsuits against the employees. Actually, they are spending our tax dollars to fight a superior court judge's decision to grant an injunction to protect our employees. The judge's injunction is lawful and the law is crystal clear that general law cities CANNOT outsource to private companies.

For those who think anything is over, WAKE UP! $495 an hour to Jones Day; $325 an hour to Hanson Bridgett; and $175 an hour to the ultimate YesMan law firm, Jones & Mayer. Tell me how ANYTHING is over when they hired 3 law firms to defend their illegal oursourcing scam and to fight the injunction. Now is not the time to give up. For those who think that nothing you do makes a difference, you're wrong. There are still residents like myself who would have never known the truth until repair costa mesa knocked on my door one day. Since then, I've told my friends and neighbors what's really going on and they tell their friends and so on...

Continue to fight the good fight! What Righeimer, Mensinger and the rest of the councilmen are doing is wrong. I can't believe this is happening in our city! Stop destroying my city!

9/04/2011 12:26:00 AM  
Anonymous selfproclaimedexpert said...

Hey, "just leave already" you seem to look at numbers and quote them. Do some cypherin and look at how much we pay cops and firemen and then let them retire at a young age and then give them millions not to work. There just may be a problem there with unsustainablity.
Pot Stirrer, haven't had time to reread the Brown Act so you may be correct but I still think Bever can talk all he wants to about an item that is not even an agendized item. Maybe, again, maybe, as long as no council member makes a decision or reveals a decision, they can talk even about an agendized item "serially"?

9/04/2011 06:38:00 AM  
Anonymous GetOutRiggy! said...

@ self proclaimed

Heres another number, $3,000 a week costa mesa spokesman for making a facebook page.

None of whats going on effects police and fire pensions. They are going after maintenance workers and office workers who are blue collar middle class workers. They dont dare touch police and fire pensions because ocgop's john moorlah already wasted millions and lost.

So now they screw with the city employees...

Its just a political stunt to to get ahead in politics. Sad truth is, Righeimer, Mensinger and the other two names are so tarnished now, even in their own party, Id be surprised if they can ever be in politicd again. No one likes being lied to.

As to the pensions for police and fire. They live an average of 7 years after retirement. There is no black clowd. Calpers just had 20% returns and have always hit their estimate. Costa Mesa hasnt paid a dime into pensions for nearly a decade. Yet, instead of being responsible and saving for it through the years, they cry foul. So even when they know they will eventually have to pay into the system, and instead of being responsible and setting aside money for it, they waste money on trying to rid the employees to rid of pensions.

News flash! The judge saw right through it and granted the injunction.

Costa Mesa houses the nations top grossing mall and instead of charging a percentage of sales for a license fee, they charge $200 a year to stores like Bloomingdales. How stupid is that. Costa Mesa has a serious revenue problem.

So how are little cities throughout the state surviving? They offer their employees a pension! Could it be because they dont have carpetbagger Righeimer and puppet buddy Mensinger trying to get ahead in politics? Hmm.....

Fountain Valleg saw right through Righeimer and raj him out. He finally found a complacent town where residents dont get involved with city politics. Our bad luck and 14,000 out of 117,000 got suckered into voting for righeimer.

Thanks waking all of us up Righeimer! You will NEVER be in politics again! Leave our city already!!!

9/04/2011 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Gallagher said...

What a hoot. When there is nothing going on at Tustin, I can always count on a laugh in Costa Mesa courtesy of the Bubbling Cauldron.

9/04/2011 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

The Riggmarshal will be back this Tuesday, ranting at everyone from the dais in his Richard Simmons voice.

Menssy will smirk, knowing that he got 10K for his pet project at the same time he cut law enforcement.

Mayor Kilt and the Beaver will do as their master tells them, hoping to reap whatever they were promised to betray Costa Mesa.

9/04/2011 11:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Other Mike said...

Selfproclaimed:

"Millions not to work". Over what period of time? That's a ridiculous statement. We pay them to retire, and if they make it a full 30 years in that job, they deserve it, even if it is a "young age".

9/06/2011 03:31:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

"You may recall that he might have spilled the beans about possible Brown Act violations when he brought the issue up, indicating that he tried to confirm an interest with "at least one other" council member before placing an item on the agenda."

Since when is it a Brown Act vioation for Council members to speak to each other?

9/06/2011 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous REALLY??? said...

Other Mike:

REALLY???

Work for 30 years and get paid for 60 plus years? What's wrong with that picture?

Now the federal government is having to deal with the same pension problem Costa Mesa is dealing with. We may lose the entire post office over the federal pension problem.

Face it, a long term free ride simply is not possible.

9/06/2011 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

When any regime takes over, it is not uncommon to incarcerate, exile or execute those involved with the prior ruling faction… so why all the fuss; why the surprise?

Three points to consider during this transition. First, ask yourself, “To what end…?” Then, “Follow the money!” And finally, ask yourself, “How much of my comfort, safety and freedom am I will to give up, under the guise of CHANGE, choosing or not to support this regime?”… ‘Trust’ should also fall somewhere in the mix.

9/06/2011 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous unionquiltersforleece said...

OC Longhair, "regime change" "incarcerate" "exile"or "execute" are pretty outrageous terms to use for what is happening in CM. It is just a pension fix, happening all over the country. Too much drama and hysteria over trying to protect huge and unsustainable pensions for pokice and fire. Too bad the police and fire are ready to "keep theirs" and let the lowly employee lose his job. We quilters jump in and help when someone drops a stitch, we don't just keep making our own quilt to get ahead.

9/06/2011 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Ya, REALLY said...

To Really???
The only thing wrong with that picture is that you chose the wrong profession. If you had chosen a dangerous profession where the voters and over 5 decades of city councils voted to take care of you for keeping them safe, you would be fighting to protect these hard earned benefits. Instead, you are jealous and don't want anyone to have what you can't get. It can't be the $$, because your share of the tax cost annually wouldn't buy me case of beer. Has to be envy.

9/06/2011 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Danny Boy said...

Everyone has the choice of where they attend college, what field of study they exile in, what job they take... is it "envy" that you choose to demonize and create hatred for a group of people because they chose to be a government employee? Get real, leave the employees alone- go bash someone else like barkeeps.....

9/07/2011 04:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Other Mike said...

Really?

Simply put; yes, really. A "free ride" indicates thes people have done nothing to earn these benefits. It's not weelfare. They put themselves out there daily, so we don't have to. I find value in that and I am willing to pay for it.

60 plus year? Are you saying these retirees live 60 years past retirement? While working, they are paying into the system. When they retire, what they get is in fact a debt we owe them. I recently read that for every PERS dollar oaid out to a retiree, the breakdown is: $.64 comes from return on investment, $.21 comes from the employee and $.15 comes from taxes. Show me where that seems unfair to the taxpayer?

Our public safety folks put up with a lot of BS day in and day out from all sorts of unsavory people. What would you have them do, or be paid?

9/07/2011 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Regime: A government in power; administration

Incarcerate: to enclose; constrict closely.

Exile: to be away/moved from one's home (I was going to use diaspora, but it didn't have that poetic flow)

Execute: to produce in accordance with a plan or design; to carry out; accomplish

... yet again the need to pacificate,"It's not the WHAT... It's the HOW."

9/07/2011 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

I love all of the passion here. Personally, I can not wait until the next council elections. Bever's seat is open and Monahan and Mensinger will stand for election.

It will be fascinating to see how the community responds to this council's actions. I am going to go on record here as predicting that Righeimer's slate prevails. Whatever that is, but I predict it will be Monahan, Mensinger and McCarthy

9/07/2011 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Bruce Krochman,
Ah, the prophet of doom! Know a good real estate agent in Newport?

9/07/2011 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

B.Krochman:
"..predicting that Righeimer's slate prevails.":

Me:
Given voter apathy and the sell-out by many in our community, a result like that is possible.

The National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) prevailed in Germany from 1920-1945.

How many more people will die or be injured so Righeimer can get a seat in Congress?

9/08/2011 07:08:00 AM  
Anonymous This will drive West nuts said...

I agree with Bruce and that is a strong slate.

I don't see anyone the union could run that will challenge that slate. Even if they can find a decent candidate, one without a pension noose, the other knuckleheads will dilute the vote.

Even if their longshot horse places, that is only one voice with 4-1 Leece. Math says you need 3 votes to achieving Union goals.

And that slate has a strong bench of candidates with stacked Commissions.

Unless there is a big event, this is a 10+ year stretch.

If I were Geoff West, I would focus on CMPD. There are major events that will occur if the New Chief will retain control. Much more entertaining than Council.

9/08/2011 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Bruce Krochman said...

Geoff, You can run, but you can't hide!

Sorry for the doom and gloom, but my read in the community is still along the lines of: "don't like the methods but agree with the goals."

Joe, That is a ridiculous analogy and I refuse to put the blame for the young man who took his life at anyone's feet but his own.

9/08/2011 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Final Score said...

I think, as someone has earlier predicted, that Mesinger won't run for the coulcil. Instead he, he will back one of his cronies (McCarty and or Fitzpatrick) who will win, fire Hatch and appoint him "CEO".
I think this has been the plan all along.
ALl we can do is sit back, bitch at each other and wait for it to happen. Our opinions are as worthless as Dodger tickets. Just like Dodger fans, we can scream and yell for our team from the stands, but no matter how hard we yell, it won't change the outcome.
Just keep hoping a new "coach" will surface to improve our chances at winning.

9/08/2011 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Sigh said...

I'm wishing we still had Chris Steel...

9/08/2011 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Referring to my comparison of early 20th Century German politics and 2011 Costa Mesa, B.Krochman said:

"Joe, that is a ridiculous analogy..snip.."


Me:
This followed a new statement by B. Krochman where he said:

"..my read in the community is still along the lines of: "don't like the methods but agree with the goals."

Me:
I see. Smile.

9/09/2011 06:41:00 AM  

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